Music Feed

New York magazine's Nov. 13-26, 2017, cover featured Cardi B. Click to see full image. (Photograph by Hassan Hajjaj) Things have been going great for Bronx-born rapper Cardi B. She was the musical guest on last night's Saturday Night Live, hosted by "Black Panther" star Chadwick Boseman. It seems a New York magazine cover last November got it right when it proclaimed she was made to be this famous. On her way to membership in music and pop culture's top echelon, Cardi B's career has covered an astoundingly wide spectrum. After losing her job as a teenage employee at an... Read more →


Tom Brady and his New England Patriots teammates look to win back-to-back Super Bowls on Sunday, Feb. 4. (Screen shot from NFL Super Bowl LII preview video) We're two days away from Super Bowl LII. That means it's time for my annual post on how gambling winnings are taxable income. Here goes. The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimates Americans will wager approximately $4.76 billion on Sunday's National Football League championship game. More than $4.6 billion of that, what the AGA calls "a staggering 97 percent of total wagers" on the game between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles, will... Read more →


Merry Christmas Eve! I hope you have all your presents at least in hand, if not wrapped and under the tree. And I hope they didn't set you back as much as the gifts given by the true love in the classic "12 Days of Christmas" tune. The least expensive of the 12 gifts in the classic Christmas carol was the eight milking maids. Maybe that's because, like farm manager Courtney Biggs at Chapel's Country Creamery in Easton, Maryland, they use modern milking methods. (U.S. Department of Agriculture photo by Bob Nichols via Flickr CC) The annual PNC Christmas Price... Read more →


Honestly, rich people. You can afford to hire good tax advisers and accountants. Why don't you?!? That's the question I ask every time another celebrity gets in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. Last week it was boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. Now the latest wealthy person who just can't get a grip on taxes is hip-hop icon DMX. Although rapper DMX seemed pretty composed after his court appearance last week on tax evasion charges, I suspect at some point this was his reaction to the federal charges. The 46-year-old rapper, whose legal name is Earl Simmons, is accused of 14... Read more →


Happy Birthday, America! July 4 is special to all of us Americans, the day we declared our independence from Great Britain. Taxes, as everyone knows thanks to James Otis' famous announcement that "Taxation without representation is tyranny," were among the reasons we sought to govern ourselves. And taxes, even after we gained control, continue to play a key part in our lives, politics and popular culture. James Cagney, before he became the prototypical movie gangster, was as song-and-dance man. He showed off those talents in "Yankee Doodle Dandy," the biopic of a man who not only gave us great musicals,... Read more →


Merry Christmas! The big day for all good boys and girls of all ages is finally here. And here in Central Texas it's in the 70s. Cheery but not chilly: I know, 'tis the season for joy, not whining about the weather, especially since 70-degree temperatures are a heck of a lot better than dangerously cold ones. Still, it's the warmest Christmas in Austin in 52 years. The short snowman on the left in the photo above and I are definitely a bit taken aback by the unseasonable turn this so-called winter weather has taken. But it won't stop us... Read more →


How's your holiday shopping going? If you're still looking for something to impress your true love, consider giving a gift inspired by the classic "12 Days of Christmas." For the 33rd year, the PNC Financial Services Group has analyzed the lengthy Christmas gift list from the song and determined, in its specially devised Christmas Price Index (CPI), just how much the prices have changed from year to year. Poultry prices aren't paltry: Overall, the cost of the song's gifts grew only slightly this year. But be prepared to pay a hefty prices if you opt for a few of the... Read more →


Music and tax fans have heard by now that rapper Nelly is in big tax trouble. Many have rallied to help the St. Louis rapper. But it's not just Nelly's fans who are coming to his aid as he deals with a $2.4 million Internal Revenue Service tax lien. Stephen Colbert offers rapper Nelly some tax advice in "Debt in Herre," a parody of the singer's hit "Hot in Herre." Click image to view full video on YouTube. Late-night television show hosts also are doing their part. Most notable is Stephen Colbert. The "Late Show" host, with help from his... Read more →


Music is important to me. I took piano lessons as a kid and even survived some formal recitals and special performances in elementary school. In junior high (that's what we called middle school in my day) and high school, I played the clarinet in school bands. A couple of friends (shout out to Sabrina and Rebecca) and I even won a 2nd place medal for our reed trio's performance at a Texas UIL competition. I long ago put my instruments away, but nowadays I am a polished listener of tunes, all sorts of tunes. Music plays a role in my... Read more →


Attention Pennsylvania digital aficionados, your electronic addictions are about to cost you a bit more. Gov. Tom Wolf on July 13 signed into law his state's fiscal 2017 revenue package. Among its provisions is an extension of the Keystone State's 6 percent sales and use tax to digital downloads of books, music, satellite radio and video and audio streaming. The new tax collection will take effect Aug. 1. It's expected to bring in nearly $47 million in its first year. Those millions of dollars in extra revenue are tempting targets for this week's By the Numbers honor. So is the... Read more →


Be still, my heart. Daveed Diggs talked about taxes! Diggs, one of the Tony-nominated stars of the Broadway smash "Hamilton," was on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon last night. He of course talked about his dual roles as America's favorite fighting Frenchman Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in Lin-Manuel Miranda's $10 Founding Father musical. Pre-Broadway jobs: However, just before getting the "Hamilton" parts, the accomplished rapper was at home in Los Angeles and was between gigs. To make ends meet, Diggs delivered catering "in my tore-up Honda Civic … mostly fajitas … at minimum wage, no less." When he got... Read more →


The estate planning world is stunned by the news that Prince passed away without a will. Prince performing at Coachella in 2008. Photo by Scott Penner CC BY-SA 3.0 via Flickr and Wikimedia Commons While lots of folks delay officially putting their final wishes on paper, the wealthiest among us, which definitely included The Purple One, tend to have a phalanx of advisers to take care of their money, including how it will be dealt with once they're gone. Such professional financial and tax advice is critical, especially if you have a lot of money and/or live in a state... Read more →


Here's a tax-related travel tip. Mail your return before you head out to your favorite festival. Some of the attendees of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival's opening weekend, April 15-17, tried to fulfill their tax-filing duties. Unfortunately for them, the Coachella campground's post office is not a full-service facility. Instead, the small operation is more of an intermediary between festival-goers and the real local post office in Indio, California, proper. The temporary Coachella post office this year is housed in a life-sized version of a Lincoln Log cabin, according to The Orange County Register. It was put together,... Read more →


When the idea to honor an American woman by placing her image on the $10 bill was raised back in mid-2015, it seemed like a great idea. The bill would be redesigned to feature a deserving woman and unveiled in 2020, on the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Then "Hamilton" happened. Click-boom! "Hamilton" star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew pose for a photo in front of the Alexander Hamilton statue on the south side of the Treasury Department, March 14, 2016. (Official Treasury Photo by Chris... Read more →


Art and life have intersected once again, this time on Broadway. The hot new show on the Great White Way is "Hamilton," the musical about the United States' first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. It's getting rave reviews not just from the critics, but also the public, including some guys who have a special perspective. Three Treasury Secretaries, two former and the current, have been to see the show. Treasury Secretaries who've attended the Broadway musical "Hamilton" about the first man to hold their job include, from left to right, Timothy F. Geithner, who served from 2009-13; Robert E. Rubin, secretary... Read more →


Tax fraud has become so profitable that it has replaced drug dealing for many gangs nationwide. Earlier this month, alleged gang members on both coasts -- 32 in Long Beach, California, and 14 in Elizabeth, New Jersey -- were indicted by federal prosecutors on a variety of tax crime charges. It's not a new development. Years ago, Florida criminals acknowledged that they shifted to stealing tax refunds because the crime was less dangerous and more lucrative than dealing drugs. If caught by authorities, though, tax crimes still carry a hefty penalty. Just ask the dude who's spending a record 27... Read more →


You can't blame tax cheats if one of Martha and the Vandellas' biggest hits has been playing on a loop in their heads of late. Thanks to a new global effort, tax evaders will have nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide. Click image to view Martha and the Vandellas YouTube video. Crossing borders to chase down tax cheats: Tax Inspectors Without Borders, or TIWB, is a new initiative from the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Its goal, is as its name indicates, is to send trained tax professionals from richer OECD nations... Read more →


MTV News and NPR explain the power of taxes

MTV is still around? And it still has a news department? Apparently so. And it's teamed up with NPR to talk taxes. My, my, my how things have changed since we all wanted our MTV. What taxes buy: "Nobody likes paying taxes. Paying taxes is a bummer no matter who you are," says Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR's Planet Money tells MTV in the video Rock Your Brain: Taxes = Power = You. But, notes Davidson, in order to provide services the government has to pay for them in some way. That way generally is taxes. As the video notes,... Read more →


HBO's John Oliver defends the IRS as April 15 nears
And Grammy winner Michael Bolton serenades the tax agency

Wednesday is Tax Day. Those of us who've yet to file (guilty!) our taxes have until midnight our local time on April 15 to get our returns (and money) to the Internal Revenue Service. That means that these next three days are filled with frustration and anger, much of it directed at the IRS. That's understandable, notes John Oliver, comedian and host of HBO's Last Week Tonight. Dealing with the IRS is a dreaded obligation, says Oliver. "It often functions badly and it combines two of the things that we hate the most in life, someone taking our money and... Read more →


Calling all history and fiscal policy geeks. If you're in New York City, stop by the Public Theater where "Hamilton" is in previews and see if you can get a ticket. It will be hard. It's a hot show right now. That's pretty amazing considering that the title refers to Alexander Hamilton, America's first Treasury Secretary. Most folks know only two things about Hamilton. First, it's Hamilton's historic face on the $10 bill. And second, on July 11, 1804, Hamilton was shot and mortally wounded by Vice President Aaron Burr in one of the most famous duels in American history.... Read more →